It's a treat for me to be riding with Mr. M today. Once a serious cyclist, he's spent years battling the after-effects of a brain tumor and, later, a pulmonary embolism, which together have made riding very difficult. The effects have not gone away, but he has worked hard to get back on the bike and slowly build up his mileage.
And we're off! This ride attracts all sorts and ages of riders: fast, slow, young, old, middle-aged, hobby, serious. (Mr. M and I belong to the slow, middle-aged, and hobby categories.)
The day is warm and the weather changeable; at times the air is very thick and humid, making some of my photos rather blurry. (But a blurry photo is a chance to play with photo-editing effects - which will, I hope, explain some of the pictures seen below.)
Our course takes us through lovely rolling farm country - what Astri might call "bucolic". ;)
Double shadow shot!!
An intermittent wind provides refreshment (and clearer photo ops):
The course is well-marked, and there are several rest stops for the hungry or thirsty:
Mr. M shows me a cool way to stand up our bikes - and for the rest of the morning the song "Lean On Me" plays in my head. :)
Here is one of the littlest riders, very thoroughly kitted out:
Getting ready to take off for the next leg, I hold Mr. M's bike while he makes a pit stop. I look down to see our handlebars nestled together, and the sight is somehow symbolic:
The changeable day clouds up, then clears again as we ride between green-and-gold fields. Red barns and tractors, and colourful cycling jerseys, make splashes of colour:
At the second rest stop, Mr. M chats with another survivor: a cyclist, who looks to be in his 70s, and has lived through a stroke and a heart attack. He told us he gets up at 4:30 every morning to ride.
The third leg of the ride takes us into Amish country:
On the last leg we pass a gal in a recumbent who's pedalling with her hands - possibly because her legs no longer work due to MS? Her companion's jersey reads "Attitude is Everything".
This is why we are riding.
It seems somehow appropriate that on this day, for the first time in over 21 years, Mr. M rode 33 miles. It may not sound like much to a seasoned cyclist, but for Mr. M it was a huge breakthrough. I am so proud of him for persisting all these years: for keeping up his stretching and static exercises when he couldn't ride or even walk more than a block, for taking short walks whenever he was able; for getting back on the bike even when he could only go a mile or two; and for overcoming his fears, his permanent double vision, impaired hearing, chronic fatigue, and irreparable lack of balance, to keep trying to do the cycling he loves. He may never be able to recover quickly from physical exertion (he spent the rest of the weekend sleeping and eating and sleeping again), but now he has the hope of becoming a little stronger than he's been in decades.
It's a gloriously hot and sticky day - the kind of day when I look back the cramped, grey, chilly rides of early spring, and feel grateful for summer and the chance to get honestly sweaty.
Blue Vervain are growing near a marsh - the bushes are taller than I am, tipped with small green-and-violet spikes of bloom:
A few feet away grows a plant I don't recognize, with white clusters of bud just beginning to open. Research reveals it to be Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), a plant used in traditional Native American medicine to treat fevers:
Miles on, I pass a stretch of gorgeous double-blossomed pink Bouncing Bet (Saponaria officinalis):
Waves of wildflowers break against a wall of corn...
...which in its turn breaks against a wall of trees.
Swallows make picturesque dotted lines on the telephone wires, but whenever I take out my camera they panic and scatter:
A pleasant summer ride.
The humidity of the early week has cleared; today is a day of boisterous wind and deep-blue skies.
The first walnuts are falling, a sure sign of what's to come:
I pass patches of a plant I don't recognize at all. The wildflower databases are no help, though a stray reference makes me wonder if it could be some kind of hemp. Can anyone ID this plant for me?
|Check out the Very Large Beetle hiding in the leaves just above these words!|
A favourite barn:
Curves (and Queen Anne's Lace) ahead!
Today's ride is an out-and-back, with the turnaround point at a local lake. Iris rests against the barrier while Tallulah and I climb down to the gravelly shore and revel in the wind-whipped waves.
The air is fresh and invigorating; hot in the sun and cool in the shade. Miss T poses for a few photos, but the lighting does not, alas, favor her delicate complexion. (It doesn't help that the camera wants to focus on the wrong subject. The trials of turtle photography.)
We spy some new-to-us blossoms growing nearby:
A wonderful (though short) ride on a gloriously beautiful day. Here endeth the riding report for July.
Current wildflower count: 116
A happy August to you! What are your plans for the last weeks of summer? (Or winter, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere?)
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